Data Journalism Assessment – Malaysia

Data Journalism in a Constrained Environment

This report serves as a guide, providing resources, tips and lessons from award-winning Malaysian journalists for local journalists to write the next big data journalism story.

This report is published by Internews in Malaysia together with the Sinar Project and in partnership with the European Union. The assessment examines the state of Open Data in Malaysia which was found to be limited across all sectors available for local journalists – making it a difficult and challenging environment for data journalism. 

In addition to providing readily available sources of data, the assessment report also shares case study examples of data journalism investigations on health, environment, human rights, and anti-corruption by leading local journalists, and a compilation of techniques and tips in finding and sourcing data needed for data journalism in Malaysia.

Key points/findings from the report:

  • Lack of quality granular open data
  • Restrictive legal environment for right to information and freedom of expression make getting access to data difficult and puts journalists and sources at risk of persecution
  • Malaysian journalists are applying innovative methods in sourcing and generating their own datasets for data journalism despite these challenges 

Based on these findings, given the potential risks faced by journalists in Malaysia in finding and reporting data, it is recommended that they familiarise themselves with the safety tips from the resources, including protecting sources along with some security basics. The assessment also highlights that, due to the decades-long constrained journalism environment in Malaysia and wealth of seemingly hidden information available as fragmented data, the next investigative data journalism story is just waiting to be written.